Compost or mulch is the result of the aerobic fermentation of a mixture of organic materials under specific conditions of humidity, aeration, temperature and nutrients. There are many people who want to learn how to make compost with pruning waste to create this type of fertilizer naturally.
For this reason, we are going to dedicate this article to telling you how to make compost with pruning remains, what aspects you must take into account and what its function is.
How to make compost with pruning waste
Haug describes a more complete definition as “organic matter that has been stabilized into a humus-like product in the soil, free from foreign pathogens and weed seeds, does not attract insects and can be handledstored, transported, bagged and beneficial for soil and plant growth.
With this technique we take advantage of all the organic waste from the farm itself. Factors to consider are:
- Balance mixture of materials to obtain a carbon/nitrogen ratio between 25-35 until a value between 15-10 is obtained at the end of the process.
- Particle size suitable for composting (2 to 5 mm in diameter).
- Neutral pH starting material, corrected if necessary.
- The mass ratio of the raw materials (sugar, protein, cellulose and lignin) is good.
- Oxygen is essential for microbial growth (40-60% aeration).
- Humidity is critical for the progress of the entire process (40-60%).
- Temperature is the parameter that best indicates the development of the process.. The maximum temperature should not exceed 70 ºC (suitable between 55-65 ºC). At these temperatures, the loss of organic matter is avoided and the destruction of pathogenic bacteria and adventitious seeds is guaranteed.
- The proper size of the pile is one and a half meters high, trapezoidal in section, one and a half meters wide at the bottom, and there is no limit to its length.
- It is important to understand the climatic conditions where the battery is installed to protect it from sun, rain, wind and cold.
- At the end of the process, we must obtain a mature product with a pleasant smell reminiscent of the forest floor, a dark color typical of organic matter and a stable temperature.
Preparation of the compost pile
Autumn and winter are the times of the year in which the heaviest pruning tasks are carried out for fruit trees. These are very important operations to keep our trees and shrubs healthy and productive, but they do generate a lot of debris such as leaves and branches that can take up a lot of volume and are sometimes difficult to manage.
Once the pruning is finished, the plant remains of a tree can be managed in different ways. One of the most common methods is chopping and storing the largest logs for use as firewood for fireplaces and barbecues, and use firewood to heat us in winter or to organize outdoor meals in spring and summer. It is not advisable to pile them up, neither from an aesthetic, environmental or phytosanitary point of view.
Steps to learn how to make compost with pruning remains
Here we give you the main steps to learn how to make compost with pruning remains:
1) The first thing to do is reduce the size of the branches, preferably chipping wood. Through this process, the size of the waste can be reduced and its decomposition into organic matter favored, and if we make it easy for them, the microbes (fungi and bacteria) in charge of helping with this task will work faster for them. Also, by shredding the wood into pieces, neither too large nor too small, drying of the material can be achieved without over-drying. To accomplish this task, we recommend using a garden shredder, as cutting all the branches with scissors can be a very difficult task and not worth it.
2)Secondly, we must take into account the type of waste that are decomposing, like green waste cut in spring or summer, they have a high moisture content, provide a lot of nitrogen and are highly biodegradable. Although this material has a high carbon content, its carbon/nitrogen ratio is usually low because it tends to have a high nitrogen content.
However, the brown or hard residues of dry lignified wood tend to have a low moisture content, a low nitrogen content and a high carbon/nitrogen ratio. Why is this important? Because to make a good compost, the initial C/N ratio should be around 25%since microbes use 25 parts of carbon per part of nitrogen in the decomposition process. If the percentage is higher than 40%, the biological activity will decrease, and if it is lower than 40%, the composting will occur so quickly that the nitrogen will be lost as ammonia.
3) Once we have treated the material, composting is divided into two stages: in the first stage, the microorganisms they are the most active because they have a large amount of biodegradable material available and mineralized. From there, in the second stage, the maturation or stabilization of the compost takes place, in which the microorganisms reduce their activity by having less biodegradable material, at which time the polymerization and condensation of the residue occurs.
4) The process, which seems complex, does not depend directly on us, since the microbes will work, but we should consider monitoring the conditions in which it occurs so that the decomposition does not fail and the process is efficient.
Humidity and temperature are key in this process, and to keep them in place, it is advisable to use a composter, allowing the microbes to keep the remains dry and airy while they do their job.
The ideal is to keep the humidity at 50%, but not to wet the residue too much, to prevent water from displacing oxygen in the pores of the formed material. The easiest way to do this is to water the scrap pile thoroughly every two to three weeks without creating puddles. So that the compost formed does not agglomerate, it is necessary to control the aeration and turn the pile of remains every two months so that there is enough oxygen.
Distributed throughout the decomposing material, prevents bad odors and facilitates the disinfection of the compost as it helps eliminate pathogens while accelerating the decomposition process, making it more exothermic. Our advice is to aerate it every two months, turning the contents of the composter with the help of a pitchfork or aerator.
This process allows us to make efficient use of plant material, recycle apparently useless products and obtain compost rich in organic matter and humus, the ideal natural fertilizer to improve the nutrients in crop soils.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about how to make compost with pruning remains.